Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Okay, so I have to say that this blog post is loooooong overdue! I read Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! (book #1) last year and I can't believe I hadn't heard about it years ago.

SAVE THE CAT! is one of my top picks for recommended books for writers. I have to give a huge shout out to Alyson Noël. Thank you Alyson for introducing me to Save the Cat!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Seriously I can't thank you enough!! It's no wonder you dedicated one of your books to Blake. He truly is amazing.

I cannot emphasis how fabulous Save the Cat! is. I don't want to sound like an annoying parakeet but it's really THAT good. So what makes it so dang good?

Good question. What make a book a great read?

Let's see, there's the hook—the pacing—characters you can relate to—originality—and most importantly a voice you can't turn away from.

I think what makes Save the Cat! so fabulous is that Blake has a likable voice and when reading it, it doesn't feel like you're studying. You're actually absorbing and understanding what Blake has to say.

In his final interview (it saddens me deeply that he is no longer here) he talks about how and why structure is important. He points out that you are misleading yourself if you are shying away from structure because it’s formulaic or hampers your creativity.

I've always been a SOTP (Seat of the Pants) writer but after reading this book I found that not only did it spark ideas, but it gave me structure and guidance. As a SOTP writer, I like having the option of being able to change things around spontaneously and even though Blake shows you how to structure your story it really doesn't have to be set in stone.

So what is the first thing Blake suggests to do?

He stresses on the importance of creating a one to two sentence logline for your story. It must have irony and an adjective. And although Blake's beat sheet (The BS2) is well structured, I still feel I have the opportunity to change things around but yet it guides me just like a business plan does.

Next, you must think up a title for your story. Not just any title but a killer title that resonates. One that yells, "Hey, look at me!" Try it out on friends and strangers. Feel their reactions.

Did their eyes light up with excitement?

Did the title do its job?

Did they want to know more?

Are they hooked?

Make note of their reactions. If it didn't excite them as you hoped, maybe it's time to think up a few more titles.

Blake shares a ton more—but I'll shut up now so you can hear it all from the master himself. (Reading Save the Cat! is well worth it!)

So why the cat you say? Why not save the earth or save the giraffe? Well, I'm not one to give up spoilers so you'll have to read the book to find out. However, I can confidently say one thing though, you'll be thanking me later and you'll be glad that you've been introduced to Blake and his fabulous how-to guide.

Are you now anxious in finding out what Save the Cat! Is all about? You should be! With so much to cover, I've decided to break up the post into two parts. Tomorrow we'll talk about the Perfect Beast aka The Board. For now I will leave you with some great links you can learn from.

So your homework for today is to come up with a killer title and a killer hook. BTW in case you haven’t noticed Save the Cat! Is the first book in a three book series. I am anxious to read the other two and I can't wait to blog about them.

How about you? Have you read Save the Cat!? Have you heard about it? Please let me know if you are a STC fan and would be interested in future blog posts regarding STC.

NY best-selling author Jessica Brody raves about Save the Cat! After I heard about it from Alyson, I found that Jess loved it just as much and I was sold!

Author Vicky Dreiling shares an awesome post (mentioning Save the cat!) HERE Pitch Begins With Premise.

To Blake Snyder—such an inspiration to all writers.

You will be greatly missed! R.I.P


To view Save the Cat part 2 click HERE


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Mart. Save the Cat is definately high on my to-be-read resource pile. I've heard so much excitement about it :)

Ambrielle Kirk

Sheri Fredricks said...

I love STC - it helped me go from a quitter's standpoint to writing like a madman once again. Thank you to Mart for sharing Save The Cat with ME!

Martha Ramirez said...

Thank you, Sheri and Ambrielle!

Ginny Baker said...

Thanks so much for the post about Save the Cat Mart! I've read through it pretty quickly and now I'm going back and trying to figure out the 15 beats for my story.

I do have some questions so I'm looking forward to your next post. For one, his first beat is the Opening Image, which he says is a snapshot of the world before the story begins. I'm wondering how to handle this beat because we're so often told we need to start our story in the middle of the action and then pepper in the back story - which to me would be the hero/heroine's world before the story begins - as the story progresses. Any thoughts on this particular beat?

Ginny Baker said...

I just wanted to clarify on that Opening Image beat - it makes more sense to me in some cases then to just start a story in the middle of the action. In most movies, we get at least some sense of who this character is, and what their life is like BEFORE we're thrown into the action or the problem they're going to have to deal with is raised. It gives us a chance to get to know them a little bit so we have a better chance of being emotionally invested in them when the problems begin.

Whereas with novels, we're told to just start in the middle of the problem, rather than show a little slice of their current life and then throw us into the mess they're in. So how do you handle the Opening Image beat?

Thanks Mart! :-)

Duckie said...

very cool mart..I have a pdf version i have yet to read, but I will...everyone cant be wrong, right?

Martha Ramirez said...


You're right it does make more sense to just start a story in the middle of the action. Lots of seasoned writers recommend doing this when starting the first chapter. I read somewhere that you should write a complete scene and then omit the beginning of that scene.

I think we can be emotionally invested if we are going through some kind of journey with them. If we clearly can understand what the goal is.

So what exactly is the Opening Image? Blake says it's the first impression of a movie - its tone, mood, and style.

Another thing to remember is that your final scene should be the opposite of the Opening Image. It should show a change. I think if you go to his site and thumb through some examples it may help. When I see what other writers' "Opening Images" are it becomes a little clearer. Tomorrow I am actually posting few links that a few writers shared what they're opening images are (but Ginny you already have them) Let me know if this helps any.

P.S. Blake refers to the snapshot as a moment to see the people we are about to follow on an adventure. I think as long as you include your main character in the Opening Image you will be safe.

Martha Ramirez said...

Duckie, thanks so much for posting a comment:)

Brenda said...

Mart, you have turned me onto the fabulous Save The cat. Thank you so much. LOL, i'm trying to come up with a killer log line. I'll let you know when I come up with something I'm not embarrassed about, lol.
I'm so excited to read your post tomorrow!

Martha Ramirez said...

Brenda, I am so excited you are excited! Thanks so much for commenting.

Trish said...


I heard great stuff about this book all over the internet. But someone recently mentioned it in connection with log lines. In fact, she was trying to show someone how to instil more conflict in her manuscript, so she spur of the moment made up this fantastic log line. And now she's writing the book- the log line was THAT good.


Martha Ramirez said...

Interetsing, Trish. Let me know if you find out the name of the book.

Charli Mac said...

You introduced me to Save the Cat, in a round about way! I love it so far. But as far as novel writing goes I am trying to manuveur how to apply it...

Any thoughts?

Charli Mac said...

I mean as far as timing and pacing...

Martha Ramirez said...

That make sme happy, Charli:)Timing and pacing...not sure what you mean.Do you mean when to apply each beat?

Angela Ackerman said...

I haven't read this one, but I too have heard do much good about it. It sounds like a great books for me, because I want to understand more about structure and decide if how I write novels is the right way for me.

Thanks for the great review!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Martha Ramirez said...

Thank you, Angela!